The police in India have arrested alleged co-founder of the the Indian Mujahideen, a large home-grown armed group, blamed for a string of attacks in recent years in the city of Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad, a government official has said.
Yasin Bhatkal, who is believed to be in his 30s, was arrested on Thursday near the porous border with Nepal, according to the website of Times of India newspaper.
He is in police custody in the northern state of Bihar, Interior Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said.
He is being interrogated,” Shinde told reporters in the capital New Delhi. “I cannot disclose which intelligence agencies were involved.”
Bhatkal was named as a co-conspirator over an attack on the German Bakery restaurant in the western city of Pune in 2010 when a bomb placed in a rucksack killed 17 people including five foreigners.
Reports say Bhatkal was captured on CCTV footage in the restaurant planting the bomb shortly before the blast.
The banned Indian Mujahideen came to public attention in November 2007 following serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh, and is blamed for multiple attacks since in cities across the country in which hundreds of people have been killed.
The group is thought to head a network of home-grown religiously-conservative armed groups, with some analysts believing it has links with the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed armed organisations.
The arrest comes in the wake of the arrest earlier this month by the Indian security forces of another alleged top fighter, Abdul Karim Tunda, who is thought to be a senior member of the LeT.
It is not known if the two arrests are linked but Tunda, who was also arrested near the Nepal border, has been cooperating with police, according to newspaper reports.
He is accused of helping to mastermind serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993 in which 250 people died, as well as more than 40 other deadly bomb attacks across the country.